The revenge of the fired Trump officials
"President Trump is right: The deep state is alive and well." This is the first sentence of an opinion piece that appeared recently, not in World Net Daily, but in our paper of record. The New York Times no doubt has its own perverse reasons for wanting to indulge our commander-in-chief's fantasies about a sinister cabal undermining his administration from the inside.
But he and they are wrong. As much as it might please a nation of bureaucratic upper-middle-class professionals to think that they are the ones bringing down the bad orange man, the truth is that Trump's most dangerous enemies today are not anonymous career officials but the people he has fired or forced to resign.
The Wikipedia article entitled "List of Trump administration dismissals and resignations" runs to some 15,000 words including notes. Many of these departures involve relatively unimportant officials leaving for seemingly ordinary reasons, as in any other administration: Grace Koh resigning as something called the "special assistant to the president for technology, telecom, and cyber-security policy" in order to practice law.
This is not what happened in the case of someone like John Bolton, however, who seems to have resigned in order to avoid being fired unceremoniously, or Rex Tillerson, who was not able to avoid the former's fate, or James Mattis, whose forced retirement was rather cruelly announced via Twitter. It is clear that Trump relished each of these dismissals and dozens of others like them.
It should not be surprising to anyone that a man who before being elected president was best known to millions of Americans for pretending to fire famous people on a television program would delight in doing the real thing while in office. But it was one thing when Steve Bannon was exiled from the West Wing in order to bolster the cause of Italian nationalism and foment schism in the Roman Catholic Church or when Omarosa Manigault Newman was put at liberty to release the bitch switch. Mattis and Bolton are experienced Washington professionals, people who know how the world works and have friends and contacts in Congress and the media and the intelligence community. They are not GOP team players and have no personal investment in the continued success of this administration.
This is why I suspect that Trump is not wrong to detect Bolton's hands in at least some of the recent leaks related to the Ukraine investigation. It seems likely that both he and Mattis will testify before the House at some point alongside at least nine other current or former administration officials. Meanwhile, a former speechwriter for Mattis is about to release what may very well be the most candid account yet of goings-on in Trump's Pentagon. If the excerpts are any indication, there is no love lost between the general and his former commander-in-chief.
Sooner or later something like this was bound to happen. You can only fire so many important people in the most humiliating manner before one of them decides to respond with something more serious than gossip. But it is worth pointing out that this is not all Trump's fault. It is one thing to be an outsider presidential candidate surrounded by a bizarre coterie of prophets, toadies, grifters, lepers, old pals, and random hangers-on. It is another thing to win and staff an actual White House. Almost by definition the sorts of people who are likely to be ideologically sympathetic toward such a candidate will lack the requisite experience for taking up Cabinet positions and other important posts. Those who have the necessary qualifications will likely be there to pursue their own agenda, the explicit rejection of which may have been one of the mainstays of your campaign. But most will refuse to take any part, which is why nine months after John Kelly's departure we still have an acting chief of staff. It also explains why Trump has been forced to rely on unofficial fixers like the aging and amateurish Rudy Giuliani and why someone like William Taylor was even involved in business that should have been the purview of trusted political appointees.
If Bernie Sanders were ever elected, for example, he would have all the same problems. Try to imagine who the elderly Vermont socialist would select as his treasury secretary. There are any number of heterodox economists hanging around places like the University of Massachusetts Amherst who agree with Bernie about things that matter, but do any of them know the first thing about how a federal department is run? The odds that he can find someone with the Goldman Sachs pedigree we have come to expect of our country's highest financial office are vanishingly small.
This is the only sense in which the Infowars-New York Times horseshoe theory of the deep state is true. The Washington establishment secures its authority not by sabotaging outsiders from within but by refusing to join them in the first place.
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